NYC Accused of Violating Free Speech by Removing Two Parents from Education Councils

The largest school district in the nation made a historic move by removing two parent leaders from community education councils due to controversial actions against transgender students and advocacy for Palestine.

City’s school board equivalent elected parents Maud Maron and Tajh Sutton were ousted from District 2 and District 14, respectively, after serving two-year terms.

Maron is set to go to court on June 18 seeking an injunction and reinstatement, claiming her removal violated free speech. The Education Council Consortium is rallying for Sutton’s reinstatement and criticizing the Chancellor for linking Maron and Sutton together.

Schools Chancellor David Banks expressed, “The violations committed by these two individuals have made them unfit to serve in these roles,” in a Friday press release that announced their ousting.

Calling it a ‘sad day,’ the Education Council Consortium denounced Sutton’s removal, indicating further erosion of trust in the administration of New York City Public Schools.

An investigative report in December disclosed Maron’s denial of the existence of transgender children in private chats, leading to her removal from Stuyvesant High School’s school leadership team for alleged bigotry. The Department of Education also instructed her to cease derogatory behavior.

Maron faced criticism for challenging the city’s guidelines on transgender students’ participation in sports and accusing an anonymous student author of Jew hatred for an op-ed condemning Israel for genocide.

Across the river, Sutton came under scrutiny for backing a student walkout for a ceasefire in Gaza, sharing a digital toolkit and protest chants. Banks cited the materials as anti-Israel and antisemitic, prompting Sutton’s removal.

The New York Times reported that Sutton, the only Black member and president of District 14’s council, had substantial support from families in her district who felt she was unfairly targeted for her advocacy for Palestine. Sutton received death threats and even received an envelope containing human feces.

In a recent op-ed in the New York Post, Maron defended her actions and revealed Banks’s official reasoning behind her removal related to comments criticizing an anonymous student author. Maron believes her removal was related to her views on gender which clashed with the NYC Democratic establishment.

Sutton was accused of violating open meetings laws by transferring council meetings online, a decision she made due to safety concerns after receiving violent threats. She was neither questioned nor her violations addressed accordingly.

David Bloomfield, an education law professor, raised concerns about the removal of Maron and Sutton simultaneously and questioned the impact on freedom of speech.

Although Bloomfield acknowledged Banks’s legal authority to remove them, he argued that such actions could stifle political speech, contrary to the principles of the First Amendment.

Maron, along with two other plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit against Sutton, Banks, and District 14’s council for curbing free speech. Maron recently launched an advisory group named ThirdRail focusing on promoting productive diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies in workplaces.

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